Group Formed to Fight Massachusetts Income Tax Repeal

September 22, 2008

A few months ago we covered the biggest tax-related ballot initiative on the November ballot: a proposal in Massachusetts to repeal the state’s income tax:

A previous income tax repeal initiative appeared on the 2002 ballot, and received 45% of the vote (885,000 votes) even though every major state newspaper and many elected officials opposed the effort.

The effort has been launched by the Committee for Small Government, which gathered 123,000 signatures to put the initiative on the ballot. One of its organizers, Carla Howell, spoke to me a few minutes ago and believes that the 2008 effort will be much stronger than the 2002 effort, with vocal endorsements and activist support. She argued that repealing the income tax will improve economic growth in Massachusetts while cutting wasteful spending.

The state income tax currently tops out at 5.3 percent, and brings in $12 billion in revenue (out of a $28 billion state budget, not including “off-budget” expenditures and local government spending). If the initiative passes, Massachusetts would become the tenth U.S. state with no state income tax, joining Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire*, South Dakota, Tennessee*, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming. (*- New Hampshire and Tennessee tax some individual investment income.)

Question 1, as the measure is called, already has some organized opposition brewing:

The Coalition for Our Communities is urging voters to reject a November ballot question — Question 1 — that would end the state’s 5.3 percent income tax.[…]

Citizens supporting the work of the coalition gathered at a news conference at Boston’s Jeremiah E. Burke High School.

“If funding for UMASS and the other public colleges is cut further, it will eliminate opportunities for people who need it the most,” Tara DeSisto, a student at the University of Massachusetts Boston, said at the news conference.[…]

According to the coalition, aid for road and bridge repairs, schools, and essential services would be drastically reduced, and property taxes would be increased to take up the slack in state funding.

“I am vehemently opposed to Question 1 because of the disastrous impact it will have on the patients I see every day and [on] every resident of every community in the commonwealth,” said Beth Piknick, a Hyannis registered nurse. “Health care in our state, particularly for the elderly, the disabled, and our poorest is highly dependent on funding from the state budget.”

Perhaps a bit of the Washington Monument ploy.

More on Massachusetts taxes here.


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